7 Questions with NFNS’s Howie Drummond

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know.

So as we get set to start the biggest Next Food Network Star to date (15 competitors!) I invite you to introduce yourself to all the contestants (HERE) starting by getting a little more intimate look at NFNS 7 cast member Howie Drummond.

Before getting called up to the big leagues, Drummond did a local cooking show called Food Ink where he went through his old family recipes while showing off his tattoos.  Somebody sent a clip to one of the casting directors and before long he was asked to do an audition.  His current project is a new show called Grill vs. Grill, a pilot series being shopped to the Travel Channel and TLC, both of whom are interested.

In Grill vs. Grill Howie visits two different backyard cooks in Wyoming, Colorado or New Mexico as they demonstrate their favorite outdoor recipes.  At the end of the show each contestant prepares those recipes for a panel of three judges who chose the winner.  The season finale is a cook-off between each of the eight winners with the overall winner taking home cash and prizes.  Currently it is a regional broadcast but you can check it out at HowieDrummond.com or watch the episode embedded at the bottom of this post.

But first Howie Drummond answers 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Howie Drummond Next Food Network StarThe first memory I have of cooking was in my grandmother’s house cooking her pasta sauce for making lasagna.  I think I was probably about ten.  That’s what really got me addicted.  I remember preparing that meal and my grandmother was making a big todu about how I made the sauce and everybody that was eating it loved it and they were making a big todu about it.  From that point making it and seeing how much people loved and the accolades I was receiving for doing it that just completely had me hooked on feeding people.

2. You’re a radio host on Alice 105.9 FM in Denver.  How’d you get that job?

I actually started in radio kind of the same way that I got the Food Network thing.  I competed for a job in Colorado Springs 16 years ago.  I was driving to work as a cook starting a tapas restaurant.  I wasn’t really happy with the situation I was in and I heard an ad on the radio about they were looking for a mourning radio intern.  It didn’t pay anything but I had always been obsessed with radio my whole life.  So when I got to work I made a phone call to them and a couple days later they said hey, we want you to come down along with 75 other people and compete for this morning show job.  Long story short, at the end of the day I was the guy that was left standing.  I quit my job and worked for free for the radio station in Colorado Springs for six months and that’s how I started my radio career.  I’ve been in Colorado Springs, I did a show in Cincinatti, Ohio for a year and now I’m back in Denver where I’ve been doing the BJ, Howie & Erica show for the past seven years.

I’m doing “Meals in a Minute” on the radio show now.

3. Do you think your experience in broadcasting gives you any advantage over the other competitors?

You know it’s hard to tell.  It all comes down to the judges and what they think.  I like to think it gives me an edge but at the same time being on the radio kind of has a stigma that comes with it.  People figure that you’re always trying to crack jokes and you’re always one and you’re doing schtick.  Some people only see that and some people get it.  I try to be myself on the radio just like I try to be myself on the Next Food Network Star.  It ultimately comes down to whether the judges think it gives me an advantage or not.

4. Each year it seems that someone makes the show without having ever seen it.  Are you “that guy?”

No, no I’ve seen the show a few times.  And once I accepted the deal for the show there was a marathon on of last season, season six so I got to watch a lot of that.   However, it didn’t really work out as groovy for me as I thought.  I was expecting it to be like that show and this season is completely different.  So I really thought I had a good idea of where I wanted to go and how I was going to do things.  Once we started filming season 7 I quickly found out that none of that stuff is going to be helpful.

5. What should viewers expect from you on the show?

A little lightheartedness, I like to joke around, kid around.  I’m not really sure how most people in the past really took me because I do like to joke around a lot. You know, you get to know people rally well when you’re working 20 hours a day, living in the same house you’re on the fast track of friend and foe whatever side of the fence you fall on.  I think people are just going to see an honest guy who has an opportunity to do something that he loves to do.  It’s going to be honest and kind of raw and there’s going to be some good stuff and some bad stuff just like with everybody else.  Hopefully they enjoy and they take away that Howie Drummond has something to offer, something interesting for them to watch.

6. Can you tease us with anything from the upcoming season?

Hmm, anything I can tease you with?  Let me think about that for a second.  I think that this season, compared to what I’ve seen, it’s a whole other level.  The people that are involved, the actual Food Network Stars that are involved with the show, the celebrities that are a part of the show is really cool.  The place that we’re staying is going to be awsome.  There’s 15 people this year which is the most that there’s ever been so I think maybe if I could tease you with one thing it’s that because there are so many people the eliminations are a lot more frequent.

7. What emotions did you experience that very first moment on set?
Wheh!  I think that I was nervous more so than I thought.  You know being in radio and doing a TV show I thought it was going to be a piece of cake.  I was more nervous than I expected, excited, a little scared, intimidated.  And I felt completely lucky and blessed to be there if that makes any sense, Stuart, it’s kind of like all those emotions wrapped in one.  I would go into peeks and valleys of nervous and scared to I don’t belong here.  Once you actually get there, you most of the people that were on there had tried five, six, seven times before finally getting picked for this one.  I tried once and they picked so I think going in I thought it was going to be a lot easier for me than it actually turned out to be.  So like I said when I got there and the reality set in that I was a part of this, that this was a huge opportunity it was a little overwhelming to say the least.

You may want to go ahead and bookmark my NFNS 7 archive (HERE) so that you can keep up to date with everything that happens this season as it happens from the point of view of a genuine Wannabe TV Chef.  Check out my exit interview with Howie HERE.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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